Every brand out there knows how important customer service can be for a company to survive in today’s business climate.
According to a study by Oracle, 89% of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer service experience.
And using social media to carry out customer service is something that many big companies have realized the potential of and are pouring more and more resources into everyday.
The formula is simple: companies target platforms where potential consumers can be found the most. And the majority of these platforms nowadays are social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Engaging with customers through these media can be a very fruitful practice. In fact, 71% of consumers who have had a positive experience with a brand on social media are likely to recommend the brand to their friends and family.
Therefore, it is imperative that companies work toward figuring out a social media customer service plan that works for them. Having an ineffective plan can be extremely detrimental to a company’s relationship with its consumers while having a good plan can provide customer satisfaction leading to better customer retention and exposure for the company.
Here are some things that need to be kept in mind when devising a social media customer service plan that works:
1. Be where the customer is.
Different companies have different types of consumers. Knowing where a brand’s customers are most likely to be present is very important if the brand wants to have a healthy social media customer service.
A best practice would be to have accounts on all major social media platforms but to focus efforts on those specific platforms where the company experiences the most engagements.
For most brands these platforms are mainly Facebook and Twitter. However, this is in no way the standard that applies to every company out there.
For many brands targeting young audiences, having a solid presence on platforms like Snapchat and Instagram can be just as important, if not more, as having Facebook or Twitter accounts.
Not identifying these platforms would result in being less active in places where majority of their consumers are found which would then mean that it is more probable for customer queries to go unanswered, something that can have a huge negative impact on a brand’s relationship with its customers. According to Controversocial, 88 percent of consumers are less likely to purchase from a company that leaves questions on social media unanswered.
2. Be quick with replies.
Simply being present on the right platforms is not enough. Having an active team that engages with customers in a timely manner is just as important.
People on social media are used to seeing quick and interactive content. And when someone approaches a brand on these platforms, they expect the same experience: quick and engaging.
In fact, 42% of consumers expect a response on social media within 60 minutes. Not responding in time can lead to consumer dissatisfaction with the customer service experience. And studies show that 56% of consumers who have a poor customer service experience will never use the company again.
This would mean that brands need to have dedicated teams that deal with customer service issues on social media sites. Many brands do have these teams but they also make use of features on these sites that make timely customer service much easier.
These features include Facebook’s programmable messenger bots and Twitter’s customizable auto-reply-campaigns among others. Brands can anticipate what consumers might ask of them and program these features to reply automatically when specific questions are asked.
These features can either be a blessing in disguise if used properly, or another way to drive potential customers away with excessive irrelevant responses if abused.
3. Be proactive with your engagements.
A very important part of social media customer service includes being proactive in your approach. The brand should be the one looking for the customer not the other way around.
The most basic requirement that needs to be met in this regard is when someone directly addresses your brand either using your brand handle or posting something on the brand’s page, you should ALWAYS respond. Not responding to such an engagement is very bad practice and can have a negative impact on the brand’s image.
Even if the response is just a standard reply, each and every query by a customer in relation with your brand needs to be addressed. Not doing so may give off a vibe that shows that the brand is disconnected with its consumers.
In fact, successful brands go the extra mile and respond to even those customers who haven’t addressed the brand directly but may have mentioned them in some other context.
4. Know when to go private
Social media sites are free platforms. This means that people can say whatever they want about a brand and even if the comment or query is illegitimate, hundreds of people will see that comment and the ball will be in the company’s court on how they deal with the remark.
Knowing when to take specific matters private and when to respond publicly can be very important in building a positive brand image.
5. Always be positive!
Being cheerful and dealing with customers in a friendly manner is always necessary for all kinds of customer service. But this attitude is specifically significant when talking about social media customer service mainly because the way in which companies deal with one specific customer is being seen by thousands of other users.
Here is an example of someone responding negatively to a comment by a consumer on social media and its consequences: https://digitalmarketinginstitute.com/blog/social-media-is-a-customer-service-channel-whether-you-like-it-or-not
Either this opportunity can be used to attract customers by showing how invested the brand is in the entire consumer experience or brands can completely make a fool of themselves in front of thousands of others and drive potential and current consumers away.